back to article Microsoft joins protest against Google web travel buy

Microsoft has joined a coalition to challenge Google's purchase of ITA Software, teaming up with a one-time critic of its Bing travel service. Redmond is one of three new members of, founded to persuade the US Department of Justice to block Google's proposed purchase of ITA Software. Microsoft's Bing search …


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  1. Michael C


    ...if you name a travel search provider other than Orbitz, Microsoft owns it, used to own it, is in the process of trying to own it, and/or is in an org with it.

    Google comes along and tries to provide their own service, through one tiny firm Microsoft is not already in bed with, attempting to provide viable competition to the conglomerate of (probably illegally price fixing as a group) travel sites under Microsoft's control and Microsoft throws the anti-competitive red flag?

    Did i read that right?

    1. Andy Jones


      That's the way I read it as well.

      At least we got a list of web travel firms to avoid now. Start spreading the word.

    2. moonoi

      Re. so... (Michael C)

      No you didn't read it right. Try reading paragraphs 1-4 of the article again.

      The complaint is that the company that Google is acquiring (ITA) provides the software that its Bing Travel service uses, same as the other companies in the umbrella. Before it was independant, but they quite rightly point out, that as it powers a fair amount of the global travel search business, it gives them a hold over the market and potentially reduces competition. So for a change MS are right to throw up the anti-competitve red flag, after all they should know all about anti competitive behaviour, and should use it as their competitive advantage ;-)

  2. Mark Simon

    Not the sort of thing Microsoft would do ... ?

    “This would lead to higher travel prices, fewer travel choices for consumers and businesses, and less innovation in online travel search, said.”

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hello pot, meet the kettle...

    MSFT complaining about someone buying up a few key customers and/or ISVs ? Can't wait for Scott McNealy's riposte: "Hotmail ring any bells, Steve?" or something far sharper.

  4. dssf


    I am relishing Michael C's comment. I love it!

  5. JaitcH

    The whole bloody lot are incestuous fraud artists

    The on-line res systems, GDS - Global Distribution Systems, evolved from airline based res systems into multi-carrier or universal systems.

    Simply put, a travel agent, or vendor. inputs an inquiry and the res system kicks out a choice of slights. Due to their affiliations these flight presentations were skewed in favour of the airline owner - in the case of Sabre, now independent Sabre Holdings, it was American Airlines - then the U.S. government stepped in because of this bias and flights were listed by time of departure.

    This why air carriers always list their morning departures at impossible times, even before the airport allows flights to begin, to get early positions in the screen listings.

    The res systems made their money when a seat was "sold", the air carriers account was debited with a handling charge and the travel agents account was credited with a small piece of the action whilst the res system grabbed the most.

    If a seat sale was cancelled the process was reversed - which all seemed fine. The res systems were, in fact, doing the accounting for all three parties in the deal.

    Airlines can't, under IATA rules, mess with discounts, etc. To get around this restriction air carriers introduced 'contracts' where they provided seats at a discount to a travel vendor based on 'production' or ethnic origin. (This why it is often best to buy overseas flights from a travel agent ethnically affiliated with your destination)

    On occasion the res systems had technical problems where their accounting systems screwed up and either the carriers or the travel agents lost out, monetarily.

    SURPRISE, no one bitched, no one noticed they were getting gyped by the res systems. These 'incidents' continued for years with everyone, except the GDS, losing a small percentage.

    Then some airline accountant got smart. Instead of accepting the GDS accounting as gospel, he decided to audit their returns with actual seats sold. Big problems for the GDS, but another opportunity for IT - automatic seat sales/GDS reconciliation.

    Remember ALL THESE TRANSACTIONS were ORIGINATED by the independent TRAVEL AGENT. In order to actually sell a ticket and accept money on behalf of airlines, travel vendors have to be IATA approved. Individual airlines made travel vendors 'authorised' by issuing a 'plate' which would be inserted in the manual ticket machine so the right codes, and discounts, were applied.. This 'plate' data was later held by the GDS so they automatically printed the data on tickets.

    Many of the discrepancies were sorted out between the GDS and the airlines but many airlines didn't have the clout to deal with the GDS so they came up with a new idea -screw the weakest link. These 'charge backs', aka Debit Notes, are made for everything: agent booking errors (including GDS errors), credit card refusals, etc.

    Then some travel agents decided to check out their GDS accounts and they found that their sale 'credits' were 'short'.

    This has happened with Sabre and, at least, Galileo - I know as I was sued by both (and they both lost) for warning travel agents through a web site, that I am one moderator of, of these losses.

    To demonstrate exactly how amoral GDS are consider: they are travel agent suppliers, they collect all passenger identification and contact info, they know all about travel agent customers, as well as travel agents.

    In normal businesses suppliers don't sell against their customers. But travel is not a 'normal' business. Sabre set up Travelocity so it can retail against travel agents (Travelocity has to use real travel agents in some locations to issue tickets because of law). In other words Sabre gets the transaction handling charge and the discount through the 'contracts' it holds through Travelocity.

    So today we have all these incestuous crooks complaining because an honest broker, Google, wants in and that all their little deals, that rip off passengers, will be exposed.

    Tough luck, I say, the retail travelling public deserves transparency and these 'friends' in the travel trade should face true competition!

    P.S. To get the best, and safest, deals:

    1. Pick a reliable travel agent who will appreciate you and your business;

    2. Only buy from IATA approved travel agents;

    3. Make sure your travel agent can be contacted out of hours by e-mail for emergencies;

    4. Make sure your travel agent is bonded - often through a trade organisation;

    5. Note that buying travel from the company organising the travel/package means NO insurance!

    6. Not one of the members of will provide all of these passenger friendly benefits. Most are not insured to protect their customers, either.

  6. mhenriday

    «Microsoft's Bing search engine –

    which is crawling very slowly towards Google's mighty search market share ...»

    A retrograde crawl (, perhaps ?...

  7. Tempest

    E-tickets, the airlines new profit centre

    You forgot to mention E-TICKETS in your great post.

    The old paper tickets, with their distinctive colours, were immediately identifiable and associated with m-o-n-e-y! E-TICKETS are easily mislaid or lost, and the airlines score the profit.

    My wonderful travel agent keeps personal files on all her passengers and sends reminders when tickets need departure dates changed (one one year tickets) or when the tickets are expiring.

    Youb CAN NEVER BEAT a live body travel agent who knows you as face rather than a number.

    Google should be allowed to enter this information market - it can nothing other than benefit passengers!

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